Microsoft’s Office 365 vs Google Apps Cloud Solutions……the Security and Privacy

I wrote an article about Microsoft’s Office 365 vs Google Apps Cloud Solutions a few months ago and now I’d like to talk about the security and privacy concerns of these cloud solutions for most businesses and consumers.
So…. you’re a Lawyer or a Doctor and also a small business owner trying to decide which cloud solution will be best suited for your company. You should also be concerned about your company’s privacy, sensitive information and files that will be transmitted over the internet and then stored in the cloud. This is a serious factor to think about and whether or not to put your trust in either Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps and the security risks involved. Consider not only how much confidential information your company has, but how you can protect your valuable data, and about choosing the right solution with trustworthy security. It is also a good idea to evaluate Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps regarding security measures if this is a major concern to your business.

Both Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps offer an extra layer of security so that every browser session will be secured with SSL encryption and reduce your worry about outside forces stealing sensitive data such as passwords, credit cards information, etc.. It may be useful to consider what type of additional network security systems your organization has, or wants to implement or upgrade to if you have a budget for this – eg…hardware and software firewall/security protection. For a highly sophisticated security and privacy, if the company budget is not an issue and you’d like to sync Microsoft Office programs to Exchange Server, Office 365 might be the right solution for your company. Here’s a documentation regarding Office 365 Security and Compliance. If you have a reasonable IT budget then Google Apps is good alternative solution. Here’s a good read on Google Apps Security and Compliance.

At the end of the day, the same questions will be asked and pondered as to how these cloud solutions are using highly encrypted technology . Will Google and Microsoft be able to provide you with a high level of protection? The reality…there will always be questions regarding security and privacy. Good luck with your decision, I think that either one would work just fine for you.

Finding a New Email Provider and Keeping the Existing Web Host

Scenario:  There’s no Exchange Server residing in the network, email (POP3) is hosted by an Email Provider. This Company is also subscribed to an SMTP Relay Provider providing their relay due to Users having intermittent issue on sending external emails.  In addition, they can’t send/receive email within their Local Area Network (LAN). For privacy reason let’s call this Company – Some Company, their Web/Email Provider will be Some Email/Web Host and their domain name is Company.net.  All Ports for POP3 and SMTP are properly configured  –  ports opened up  from their Sonicwall device.

It all started a few months ago, all the Users from Some Company were having an email issue.  This is a small business entity with only less than 10 employees in the office but heavily utilize the email due to the nature of their business.

So, my mission is to find a new Email Provider to see if this will resolve their problem.  I have thought of Google Apps, since they provide free plan for less than 10 Users and why not give it a try.  Bear in mind that Google Apps is a Cloud solution but I have confirmed that POP3 standard protocol can be configured in Microsoft Outlook but it’s also limited on a lot of features. I’ve also found out that since this is a free plan that technical support won’t be provided. Hmm…I think that this is an important factor isn’t it? The mailbox limitation of 25gb per User is more than enough, it is good to know.

I have decided not to use Google Apps because of the Pros and Cons that I have weighed in, so I’d like to try godaddy.com as my second option. For only $3+ per month for up to 10 Users this is reasonable enough, a total of <$40 per year with unlimited mailbox and technical support assistance. A good feature is the integration to Smart Phones (Blackberry, iPhones & Androids), so all of these are great additions. I went ahead and signed up with godaddy and all ready to setup the Users Email Accounts.

Oops….I got an error while creating one Email Account that ‘the domain name is already been used ’. I have contacted godaddy’s technical support and I found out that I can’t sign up with them using this particular domain (Company.net) because it’s being used by another Provider and there’s a conflict. I didn’t really understand at first, then the Technical Support told me that this is something new in their company.  She told me to sign up Company.net’s Domain Registrar which is Inexpensive Domains (also provides Web and Email hosting) for email hosting. Inexpensive Domains is affiliated with godaddy.com and because of this I can’t use godaddy so I ended up signing up with Inexpensive Domains. It was a hassle free registration and setting up the Email Accounts are straight forward procedure.

To transfer or move the email account from Some Email/Web Host to Inexpensive Domains, I will need the MX Records of godaddy added to Some Email/Web Host Servers.  The propagation might take up to 48 hours and this is the standard waiting time. I have encountered a very long wait before (with previous projects) and there’s nothing that I can do about it.  The MX Records can be obtained once you are logged on to the Control Panel of godaddy. Once I have noted the MX Records, I sent an email to Some Email/Web Host informing them to add the Inexpensive Domains MX Record to point to the new Email service provider Inexpensive Domains.

I had to do this process after 5:30pm to avoid any interruptions during business hours. The next morning, as soon as I started my day at work, I’ve logged on to godaddy’s Control Panel then navigated to the Email tab and found that all Email Users that I have created have been activated. Wow, that was fast……

There seems to be almost no downtime because the Users from Some Company don’t check their emails first thing in the morning. I have contacted all the Users and was able to setup their new email accounts remotely so quickly and without any issues at all.

One thing that I like with their new Email Provider – the plan for up to 10 Users per year is only $30 a year with unlimited mailbox and integration to smart phones, SMTP Relay is free for up to 250 relays per day per User. These are great features and all inclusive with this plan. At the end it has a positive the outcome –  Some Company kept Some Email/Web Host as their Web provider and Inexpensive Domains is now their new Email Provider. I haven’t heard any complaints yet, and so far so good.

Microsoft’s Office 365 vs Google Apps Cloud Solutions

There’s a battle going on between two great Cloud Solutions – Microsoft Office 365 vs Google Apps. Which side will you choose?
 
If you have a Home or Small Business with less than 25 employees, there’s no need to invest on a Server, additional Computers , Hardware and Software. All you need is a working Broadband connection and a computer to access the internet. Remotely access and work on your files, programs, software anytime and anywhere. A very minimal and basic IT support  is needed, there’s no need to outsource a professional IT Consultant.
 
Two Versatile IT Cloud Solutions that are now available:
 
 
As low as $6 per User per month which is not too bad at all.  The package comes with Email (with anti-spam filtering), web-based Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote  and Lync.
 
 
Google Apps includes a Free Solution (google documents, hosted email, spreadsheet and presentation) for up to 10 Users with Free Website and Email. Upgrade to the Business solution and you will get a lot more out of it including synchronization of emails to your Smart Phones (Android, IPhone and Blackberry).
 
Now, it’s all up to you which one would work better. Will it be the most affordable one but with less attributes? Perhaps spend a little more but you’ll get a lot more goodies.